Three Day Weekend of Glorious Rowing!

Over the weekend, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club went in force to the Ross regatta. The Ross regatta setting is perhaps one of the best in Stratford’s event calendar and it was further enhanced by the weather being very sunny and very hot.

The J13 crews raced in the morning and first on the course was the 2x double of Louis Beason and Charles Happel who had progressed through to the semi final race courtesy of a bye. They provided a first class demonstration of sculling and steering, the course bend proved to be the downfall of many during the day, winning against Queen Park High school easily.

Their final saw them up against Nottingham & Union Rowing Club, Louie and Charles got off to a great start but were pegged back by the power of the Nottingham crew who registered the win – easily.

The next up for Stratford was Grace Beason again rowing against Nottingham & Union Rowing Club in the WJ13 1x. The race proved not to be Grace’s best unfortunately capsizing shortly after the start.

Stratford’s  WJ13 4X+ Crew of Amalia Richardson, Maddie Hall, Uche Nwachukwa, Grace Beason and Emily Stobart (cox) were up against Ross Rowing Club. The ladies competed very well after losing ground at the start, picking up in middle of the course to be on the tail of Ross before running out of steam at the sprint finish missing out by only one length – a great effort by the ladies. Said Steve Marsden, J13 coach, “A great day and great experience for our young crews.”

On Sunday, the J14’s were out in force again. The J14 double of Toby Sartain and Owen Perkins were first up racing against a strong duo from the home club, Ross. The Stratford boys pushed hard but on this occasion it wasn’t to be and it was the Ross crew that progressed to the next round. The other double of Bella Chappelhow and Will Beattie also completed in the same event and were drawn up against a very strong boys’ crew from City of Bristol and despite a battle all of the way down the course, the Bristol crew were victorious by just two lengths.

Next it was the time of the J14 girls’ singles. Ruby Howells competed in only her second event in a single against a very neat sculler from Exeter Rowing Club. Ruby sculled beautifully down the course but the Exeter sculler was just too strong to be beaten.

Fleur Griffiths and Freya Watts both took to the water to race their first rounds against scullers from Queens Park High School. The Stratford pair were comfortable winners in this round and progress to the semi-finals. Here Griffiths met Harriet Holmes and in a very close race and it was Griffiths who took the spot in the final by just half a length over Holmes. Watts then took on another sculler from Queens Park High School which again was dominated by the Stratford sculler. Watts then took on Griffiths in the final and in another close race in which Stratford was guaranteed a win. On this occasion it was Watts that was victorious and picked up the tankard.

Beattie was up next in the J14 singles where he faced an extremely big sculler from Warrington. Beattie came down in the lead and took the win in the heat, his first in a single. Next he faced one of the boys from the Bristol double from earlier in the day. Unfortunately it was the Bristol sculler who took the place in the final.

The J14 girls doubles of Griffiths and Honour Keil and Howells and Chappelhow were both dealt challenging draws in their first rounds and despite pushing hard they were defeated. Holmes and Watts made it through the first round with a comprehensive win but unfortunately they were beaten in the semi-final by Exeter.

On Monday, it was Chapplehow’s turn to race in a single for the first time and despite a sterling effort, she was unable to overcome her opponent from Bristol. The WJ14 coxed quad of Keil, Howells, Griffiths, Watts and cox Toby Sartain powered to a five length victory against Ross in the semi final. Then in the final, they raced Bristol and with some expert coxing from Toby taking the fastest water, they finished two lengths ahead of their opposition.

The doubles of Griffiths and Watts and Howells and Keil again came up against crews that they couldn’t quite overcome as did Perkins in the J14s single. Said Abi Terry, J14 coach, “The squad now look forward to the new season as they move up to be J15’s.”

Bringing the season to a close, the J15 squad’s winning weekend began on Sunday morning with finals places for Amélie Sartain in the singles event and also in the doubles event with Abbey Meggeson later that afternoon.

The heats were aptly named as the sun beat down making for some demanding racing with both girls fighting through deservedly winning their finals places. In both the single and doubles events, the finals went right down to the line with victory escaping by only by the shortest of margins on both occasions.

Monday saw the course increase in length for the main regatta. Sartain, again in the single faced a local Ross girl for the heat and after a fast start comfortably won by four lengths for a place in the semi final. A tougher semi final race against Evesham, winning by less than a boat length had Sartain against Queens Park High School in the final. An inspired row from both saw the girls side by side as they passed the cheering crowds yet it was Sartain that dug deepest to take the win by two and a half boat lengths.

The afternoon doubles event saw Meggeson and Sartain back together to face a Wycliffe crew. Despite Sartain having raced eight previous races during the weekend and Meggeson three, the race was extremely close and hard fought all the way, coming a very commendable second by only three quarters of a length (eight metres). This demonstrated the sheer determination and drive of the girls throughout this race and the whole weekend

Commenting, Trevor Tiller, J15 coach said, “A wonderful conclusion to a successful season for the J15 squad: the determination and passion shown by the squad throughout the season, during both training and racing, has made for some great times and as a byproduct, great results.”

As the regatta continued into its second day and the temperatures continued to soar, Stratford’s J16 girls took to the water. Just two athletes took a break from summer holidays to light up the Wye in their single sculls. On opposite sides of the draw, the competition began with both Jasmine Mountney and Alice Baines sailing through the first round each with a win against Dart Totnes and Evesham respectively. In the semi finals Alice again took a win against City of Bristol however unfortunately Jasmine met her match and was edged out on the line. Alice went on to the final and duly avenged Stratford’s semi final defeat vanquishing Nottingham Union thus taking her second win is successive years in this event. Said Steve Wellstead, J16 coach and Junior Co-ordinator, “Top sculling by both ladies and a fitting end to the day’s racing!”

Also on day two of the regatta, Khloe Curnock and Molly Gill-Swift racing in the Senior Women’s double sculling event proceeded through the heats in magnificent style to reach the final and race against Upton Rowing Club. An amazing final: the first attempt ended in a dead heat with the two crews returning without rest to the start to do it all over again. Despite a combative performance, Upton just took the event.

Katie Wellstead sculling vigorously in a single in the Women’s Junior event was overhauled by less than ten feet at the finish by an Exeter sculler. The afternoon saw Mimi Hill, normally a coxswain, join the three girls (all only 17 years old) to take on the Senior Women’s quadruple sculls. More top class sculling by the girls enabled them to destroy the ladies from Ross and then Worcester Rowing Clubs. The final against an Evesham crew composed from university students was a brutal affair in which Evesham finished less than two lengths ahead of Stratford.

A composite Stratford/Derwent Master Women squad also travelled to Ross and showed endurance over the weekend. They were entered in a Women Master F single, Women Master E double, Women Master D Pair and Women’s Master E and Women’s Senior Coxed Four. Altogether they were on the river nine times over the weekend, where they won five races and lost two by small margins.

Commenting, Kjersti Rogneflaten, Stratford’s Masters sculler, “In my Women’s Masters F single, I won my semi-final and lost by a quarter of a length in the final, where I had to give my opponent five seconds head start over the course of 600m.  We also had a win in Women’s Masters D Pair and also in our Women’s Masters E coxed four. We were pleased to have got through one heat in the Women’s Senior coxed Four beating young women from City of Bristol Rowing Club.”

The composite Stratford/Derwent crew are grateful for being able to use Stratford Boat Club’s four and the help and support during the days at Ross. Now the composite Stratford/Derwent squad are looking forward to the World’s Masters Regatta in Hungary in September.

As the school term starts, all the squads move up one division. Said Steve Wellstead, Junior Co-ordinator,”There has been no ‘fall out’ this year again with all the squad members continuing rowing in the next category. We will be joined in September by a new J13 squad who have come through the August summer camps which saw nearly one hundred young athletes learn rowing as a sport: we would love to have taken many more on the new J13 intake but space, equipment and coaching availability are all at a premium at Stratford.”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald page fifteen and online and also Stratford Observer online

For more great pictures of Ross Regatta, see Stuart Baines’ excellent selection!AiW2DAyn9tg9japp4IR8hhRWg3RN-w?e=ouWvWN

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